Matt Heath founded Make your Change when he realised many young people strongly feel the world isn’t anywhere near the way they wish it was. When he returned to Australia from working in Berlin, he knew he wanted to help make the world a better place and that his mission was going to be all about climate change.
“After going through my own ‘quarter life crisis’ of leaving corporate work, ending things with my fiancé, living in a van and travelling overseas, I realised that most of my life has been about what could I get, rather than what I could give. I knew it was time for change,” Matt says.
“Make Your Change started from a meetup group designed to answer a question: Why is there such a gap between concern and action? This was rooted in my background in management consulting where I had seen similar problems play out. Corporations would talk for so long about abstract strategies, whilst losing sight of the practical, tangible basics that make a difference. And I saw that playing out at a societal scale.”
Matt couldn’t understand why so many people were focussed on re-usable coffee cups and composting food scraps, knowing that there was no way to “keep cup or compost our way out of the problem.”
“Seeing that human behaviour was pivotal to the causes of climate change, I started Make Your Change to educate, motivate, and activate Australians to take meaningful climate action. That started with supporting climate groups to transition to a COVID-19 world by building a website that aggregated all the events, actions and organisers from around the climate movement,” Matt says.
“Now we’ve transitioned to bringing this service into real life, by delivering workshops, training, and coaching services to organisations. We hope that by creating engaging experiences with empowering emotions, we can put a climate champion into every office.”
With Australia currently recognised as the wealthiest and most polluting OECD country in the world, (and the 3rd largest exporter of fossil fuels), Matt believes we are in the best place to set an example for the rest of the world
“Business has a massive opportunity to reduce emissions just by helping to change staff behaviour. There is already so much information in the world that we don’t use. By creating meaningful experiences, we hope to get people to engage in a lifelong journey, not just take a single action.”
Matt’s entire career has been dedicated to helping others do things better. He was a management consultant for nearly a decade, working with big corporations such as IBM and EY to solve big problems.
He has also worked with Amboss in Berlin, a startup that makes medical knowledge practical, usable, and trusted.
“I realised that there was no such app or service for climate change. However, Amboss is largely solving a technical problem, where my experience of peoples’ inaction on climate change is about emotions, identity and psychology. Climate Coaching is an attempt to take the abstract, the existential and the fearful and turn into something actionable, personal and empowering,” Matt says.
Matt faced a few big challenges in the early days of Make your Change; particularly starting a climate-action technology-based start-up in middle of a pandemic with no experience, funding or connections.
“Trying to understand the best way to engage people, be financially sustainable and make a meaningful difference is still a formula we and so many others are trying to crack. Also splitting with my co-founder was hard. Our differences were in many ways our strength as we were able to balance each other out,” Matt says.
“However, I wanted to take to the organisation in one direction, he in another, and we had to make a call. I can’t say I prefer one to the other, as they are both just so hard and so different, but I’d love to have another co-founder on board who believed in the same mission.”
Make your Change has now signed a major European bank to deliver in person on-line training and materials to help their staff take climate action across Australia, New Zealand and South Asia.
“Given the importance the finance sector plays in shifting power and influence, this is exactly the type of change we want to make. To get into major companies from within and reduce this ‘us vs them’ attitude and realise that we can all make a difference.”
Other exciting initiatives include:
Corporate Workshops: looking to scale out the corporate workshops, particularly as COVID restrictions ease in Sydney
Online Cohort Curriculum: To better scale and connect climate champions in each organisation we work with, the business is developing online materials to teach climate champions how they can motivate, educate and activate themselves and others to take more action.
Climate Action Roadshow: Visiting regional and suburban centres to bring Make Your Change workshops and materials to community events, pop-up booths and other areas where the climate movement
Matt says being part of the Fishburners community has been very helpful.
“I found lock down really tough, especially as I’d only landed back in the country, off the back of some tough relationship issues. So jumping head first into the climate crisis in the middle of a pandemic really took its toll. I think i discovered how much of a ‘people person’ I really am,” Matt says.
“Fishburners has given a sense of normality and community I didn’t think I was going to find as a solo founder. I’ve really enjoyed both giving and receiving help from peers, in a way that’s very different to working in a business.”
Matt has some great advice for other startups:
Get help. No matter how smart or experienced you are, there are somethings you can’t see from the inside. Getting an external opinion who you can trust, that get the problem, and have your interest at heart is worth any amount of investment to find them. I bullied our advisor into helping us in the friendliest way possible, and we wouldn’t be here without it.
Stick to your strengths. I’ve seen so many founders, including myself, try to solve problems they want solved, rather than solving the problems they are suited to solving. My sweet spot is dealing with people, yet I spent most of last year trying to build a website. Since running workshops, coaching sessions and hosting events, I’m happier, having greater impact, and doing something that I know others cannot replicate.
Give back to the world: If you’re in a position where you have the wealth, the education and the freedoms to start a start-up, you are part of a privileged slither of the global society, and in my opinion, have the responsibility, the opportunity and the joy of being able to do things for others. When your business is built around gratitude and service, the 1am finishes become bearable, the frustrations seem worth it, and the successes are so much sweeter.
Make your Change is now hiring volunteers to help with social media, EDM and blog writing, so please apply if interested.